Restoration, Italian-Style

No, it's not a re-release of some Sophia Loren farce from the 60s featuring a political dicator and dubious conservation practices. It is the latter but in real life, and it's not at all farcical. You see, everyone's favourite septuagenerian lustful leader, Sylvio Belusconi, has ordered the restoration of ancient Roman statues in his house; it's the sort of clean-up job they preferred in the 18th century, and that the Italians used to excel in, especially when they were duping rich English lords looking to buy antiquities during their Grand Tour. He's ordered the addition of a hand and an *ahem* 'member' for Venus and Mars. Now apart from its amusing appropriateness for the PM's persona, it is a deeply problematic act. The statues seem to have been deaccessioned from a museum and now enhance Berlusconi's cultural capital at home, but experts are outraged because reconstructing antiquities is no longer considered a 'done thing' in conservation, and moreover, Berlusconi ordered cuts of over 40% for the arts budget in Italy, something that means that the country's already crumbling antiquities have no chance of even the most minor preservation work. Oh dear, oh dear...


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